curiouser and curiouser

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events

my taste in furnishings is a little bipolar. while i love rooms that feel spacious and spare, containing just few pieces of streamlined furniture, i also admit to a penchant for concentrated areas of organized clutter.

these mini museum displays are set up all over my house and so it has been, ever since i can remember—i was one of those kids that constructed alters of bird nests, broken china, and rocks. and shells. and old jewelry.

i nestled cracker jack toys and beads in bits of wool and put them to bed in matchboxes that i secreted away in my pockets or drawers (the layering is so important). i narrated their stories to myself constantly.

and so on. i never met a small box or bottle i didn’t like . . . or a baby shoe.

i see a bunch of you smiling to yourselves out there—you know what i’m talking about.

when i moved to NYC after college, a country mouse making my way to the city life, i discovered there existed a whole new level of detritus beyond my imagination. the things i found on the street, in forgotten corners, or in the trash to make art from were almost limitless in their potential to mix with other things and tell tales.

(i know—that part about the trash makes me shudder now too, but honestly, i never picked through; just took from the top and then, only clean stuff. i swear.)

i love that david has a similar affection for curious doodads, but i’m starting to see that two of us in one house can be trouble. in our current home, things have gotten a bit out of control since, with the renovation, we have never completely settled into a permanent configuration. our displays are a lot more haphazard and they grow quite organically out of nowhere and in the oddest spots, where they sit unattended. we have little time to be the curators we once were.

as we finish each room, we are very careful to edit and introduce “order”, allowing only our most favorite stuff to remain. david refinished my dad’s old desk for me and i created a curiosity cabinet within, ostensibly to keep from cluttering other surfaces and cut down on dusting.

but there’s still a ways to go; i admit i do not get carried away with organizing my surroundings—yet. and  after ten years in one place, we could use a thorough sweeping out.

one good development has been that as my design career expands, i see more and more how to process textural inspiration into my work without having to collect and assemble so many actual things; now that we live outside the city, i also use my natural living surroundings as inspiration.

and then i saw that another designer has undertaken a similar journey of converting actual collecting into a more visual reflection of her love of texture.

in the knitter’s curiosity cabinet, author and designer hunter hammersen explores the history of the curiosity cabinet, where combining objects can range from indulging in a mild interest to a fiercely fetishistic passion.

what she has done is to make the book itself into her cabinet and assembled within a collection of socks, fingerless mitts, cowls, scarves, and shawl designs, tied together by a botanical theme.

(haha, wow; that looks way too familiar for comfort)

she then uses the the curiosity cabinet as a central touchstone around which to fashion a book containing her knitted accessory collection.

each piece is a little universe swirling with interest, contained within the boundaries of its small shape. the textures captured within the projects are inspired by botanical prints.

such as the crocus versus sock, above.

there is something for every knitting level and many pieces are good candidates for gifting, even at the last minute.

and the chrysanthemum frutescens socks (cover photo) and hat (below).

there is more than one pairing of pieces in the collection; several accessory sets are featured which make good use of a larger skein of yarn.

the pattern steps are written out in paragraph form, while the stitch patterns used within appear both in row-by-row and charted format; the charts are large and easy to read.

the book is an almost-square shape that lay open nicely to individual project pages.

the collection is rich with deep, luscious color, sparked by highlights of fresh spring, such as the pink shawl above.

the palette is very appealing and in keeping with the theme with yarns sourced largely from favorite indie dyers.

the best part is that hunter is a “neighbor” of mine who lives up in cleveland, just an hour away and i got to meet her when i was at TNNA last weekend. silly me, i forgot myself entirely and did not get a photo of us together—drat.

now you might already have guessed what’s coming next, but i’m going to tell you anyway. hunter has very graciously set aside a copy of the knitter’s curiosity cabinet to send to one lucky reader of today’s post.

leave a comment at the end of this post by 9 pm EDST on sunday, july 8th to have your name included. we will announce a winner early next week.

very many thanks to hunter for providing the opportunity to share her book and to offer a giveaway copy; thank you hunter!

406 thoughts on “curiouser and curiouser

  1. Anne, I was laughing with your collections – I’m an inveterate collector myself and got a strong case of deja-vu. There’s something about objects that makes them so interesting. And boxes are always a mystery: yu have to find what’s in them!

    The book looks lovely – I know a lot of people knitting the socks already.

  2. Looks very intriguing- and small projects, a good thing for me.
    Like the pictures of your collections and like the idea of “curating” them–something I should try in my home…

  3. curiouser and curiouser and curiouser … the above stories could be my own AND I also live an hour away from Cleveland. hey~maybe it’s an Ohio thing 🙂

    The book looks very interesting and I really enjoy reading your little stories.

  4. I keep seeing this book – it feels like one of those collections that I should own.

  5. how lovely! Definitly a title to add to my wishlist for my upcoming birthday 🙂

  6. This post really resonated with me. I too love to collect weird little things and spend time arranging them. However, I have a toddler now who has learned to climb all the furniture and my collections have been packed up or given away. I love the idea of knitted useable and wearable objects as a different kind of collection, and I especially love the botanical theme. Just beautiful!

  7. Just from the peek that you gave us, I know that I’m going to make several of the designs!

  8. Thanks for letting us know about this cool new book (and this amazing designer)!

  9. I love your little collection spots and treasures! That’s a very cool book–thanks for the giveaway. It’s been a crazy week–power out for 56 hours, but I became a grandma to new twin girls, so all in all it’s been a good one. 🙂

  10. The colors she used in the book are stunning! Can’t wait to tackle these patterns.

  11. Ooh, the photos from that book are gorgeous. I bet they would look even better at my house! The list of books I want just keeps growing!

  12. I love this book and the projects in it. Thanks for featuring it in your blog.

  13. Hi Anne, great post & thanks for offering the drawing! Very exciting!!!

  14. i love curiosity cabinets. i have a friend who, like you, has little collections around her house and i love looking at them. this book look awesome. thank you for the giveaway!

  15. Thank you for showing this delightful book. I will be getting it, whether I win it through you or not. Also thank you for giving a name to what I have been doing for years. Now I just need a cabinet, or two.

  16. There are so many lovely knitting books around. Now I make a rule that I won’t buy one unless there are at least three patterns I would actually knit. This book qualifies, but I will wait to see if, with luck, I can save the money to buy yarn for at least one! Thanks for the review.

  17. Your wonderful curiosity cabinets bring back childhood memories. My mom had this big, at least it seemed big 50+ years ago, “hutch” that did not have doors on it and it was filled with antique doll dishes she had collected since she was a child. My Saturday job was to dust the hutch and doll dishes…ugh!
    My mom now lives in a Senior retirement community and the doll dishes have found there way to different family members and the Saturday morning dusting forays have left me with an aversion to curios. However I do still have my stash of special objects…they are just a much more manageable lot!

  18. Book looks interesting – my collections tend to center around sugar and creamer collections and pretty rocks

  19. Wow!! I would love to win, but if not I’m ordereing this book. It looks like great reading and all of the patterns are gorgeous!

  20. I seem to be collecting a lot of knitting books! I just love looking at them, dreaming about what I might be ambitious enough to try. This book has some lovely, dream-worthy patterns! Love the lacy socks and the pink shawl! Thanks for all your inspiration, Anne!

  21. That is so sweet of her! I saw this book on Rav a while back, and adored it. The pink shawl is so full, and the socks are to die for!

  22. Looks like a lovely book that would find a good home here… I have knit some of Hunters patterns before, and they are lovely…

  23. OK – true confession time. I’ve never knitted socks before. But the gold socks in this book make me me want grab some needles and yarn right now! I love the combo of lace and collectibles – my favorites are little boxes made of this and that, from here, there and everywhere:)

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